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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Patina or Dirty (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

padre rich
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I've performed the cups and balls professionally for 20 years. The first decade I pretty much used Charlie Millers exclusively and then I would use various cups depending on the situation. I 've performed the cups hundreds on times and through the years, about half a dozen times (mostly at higher end gigs) I've been told that my cups could use cleaning. On all occasions I was offended as I have worked hard for that deep rich brownish patina. In discussing this with a fellow magi he commented " to you it's beautiful to the hostess that's paying a chunk of money THEY'RE JUST DIRTY!" Then he proceeded to ask me some questions. Do you continue to use ropes that have a noticible beige color that is obviously from handling or do you discard them and get new ones? Do you perform with an apparatus that has a noticeable layer of dust on it? I answered that I would not perform with either if they weren't bright and clean. He responded " then why do you continue to perform with dirty cups? "
I insisted that patina and dirt are two very different things and I offered the semi practical reasoning that cups with patina does not reflect reflect a palmed ball as polished cups do . To which he replied " USE WOOD!"

What do you guys think? Having actually heard comments from the laity and having really thought about my friends questions I will probably shine the cups for private shows but keep my hansome Animal Cups in their pretty brown skin for street and festival work.
Have a great 4th of July !
Rich
God's grace rocks! It makes a good cups and balls routine look pretty boring in comparison.
Sir Richard
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Quote:
On 2011-07-04 10:43, padre rich wrote:
I've performed the cups and balls professionally for 20 years. The first decade I pretty much used Charlie Millers exclusively and then I would use various cups depending on the situation. I 've performed the cups hundreds on times and through the years, about half a dozen times (mostly at higher end gigs) I've been told that my cups could use cleaning. On all occasions I was offended as I have worked hard for that deep rich brownish patina. In discussing this with a fellow magi he commented " to you it's beautiful to the hostess that's paying a chunk of money THEY'RE JUST DIRTY!" Then he proceeded to ask me some questions. Do you continue to use ropes that have a noticible beige color that is obviously from handling or do you discard them and get new ones? Do you perform with an apparatus that has a noticeable layer of dust on it? I answered that I would not perform with either if they weren't bright and clean. He responded " then why do you continue to perform with dirty cups? "
I insisted that patina and dirt are two very different things and I offered the semi practical reasoning that cups with patina does not reflect reflect a palmed ball as polished cups do . To which he replied " USE WOOD!"

What do you guys think? Having actually heard comments from the laity and having really thought about my friends questions I will probably shine the cups for private shows but keep my hansome Animal Cups in their pretty brown skin for street and festival work.
Have a great 4th of July !
Rich

Padre, you ask a good question: one that's required a lot of thought on my part. 1st off, it begs the question: "How many magicians with a "nice" patina on their cups ever had any lay person in the audience comment: "OOOOH! Look at that nice Patina on those cups?" This tells me that it's a personal preference on the part of the magician. I know that no one from any of my audiences has ever said that to me. I clean & polish my cups before every performance, I like "eye candy." Bright, shiny things attract the eye.
I've also heard it said that shiny cups can reveal the hidden ball in the dirty hand when it's behind the cup.(???) I'm a magician, so I don't let them see the ball where ever my hand might be. However, as I said, it's personal preference on the part of the magician; the audience doesn't seem to care, one way or the other...unless they think the cups are "uncared" for. If I was going with a nice patina I would simply explain to the lady: "I understand, but these cups are very old, hard to clean & I hold them in high regard." Who knows, it may work.

Sir Richard.
"In the land of Murphy there is but ONE law!"
Pete Biro
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Never thought of that, but when I work I always use nickle plated Paul Fox cups. My Indian cups are dark and dingy, as I want them that way.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Watchmaker
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Tell her they're 150 years old, she would never suspect a man of the cloth to lie to her! Actually keep them wrapped in a big piece of nice looking fabric and handle them like they are some priceless heirloom that has been handed down for generations. If you wipe them off real lovingly before and after, people will assume they are antiques, don't go flicking your cigar ash in there like I do.

Your best bet might be to ask the Wizard (Mr. Palmer) I'd go with what he says.

Respectfully,

Phil
Donnie Buckley
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I like shiny.
Learn the form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the way, then find your own way. Rings-N-Things
Rainboguy
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Depends on the cup......as watchmaker says.....ask Bill Palmer...he's the man~!
Pete Biro
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I think you "ask yourself" .... what kind of image do you want to project. Who's your audience. Look at John Ramsay, he used cardboard ice cream cups, Mike Skinner used tea cups. I use a rubber toilet plunger for certain situations, borrowed tea cups, nickle plated Paul Fox's and antique, beat up Indian cups.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Michael Baker
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I think Watchmaker is on the right path.

We are smack dab in the middle of a society that survives largely because it is easy to sell shiny things to idiots. Just watch TV if you don't believe that. Many people are on the buying side of that equation because they do not know better. Pure and simple ignorance. They only know what they know. This is what would cause someone to order a Tournedos Bearnaise for the first time, and then smother it with ketchup.

If you want people to understand something, you probably are going to need to tell them. There is nothing lost, save a few seconds of your time, by doing something to raise the status of your props, and most like the show overall. In many cases, it will only take a few words to properly frame what is about to happen. Introduce the characters. This becomes the prelude to the main event.

In some cases, it may be ok to let things speak for themselves, and for the audience to make assumptions, and therefore opinions. Other times, you need to lead the pack. Smile

~michael
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BCS
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Michael said it pretty good...

“If you want people to understand something, you probably are going to need to tell them. There is nothing lost, save a few seconds of your time, by doing something to raise the status of your props, and most like the show overall. In many cases, it will only take a few words to properly frame what is about to happen. Introduce the characters. This becomes the prelude to the main event.”

Most of the Cups I use are brown with a patina... they tie into my presentation of being something wonderful of old... as I have been into Cups the longer, I have changed my opinion and I am letting most of my copper Cups turn. I do have some chromed and shiny stainless steel Cups that I use if I am dressed to impress in my best suit and I am doing a more formal presentation (far and few between). Also I keep all my brass Cups shiny... too me brass looks better that way... maybe that will change one day.

Thanks,
Bruce
David French
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Good topic, actually,

I had a woman comment on my benson bowl, that it needed to be polished...once. I now polish and clean my bowl (brass) and my chop cup (copper) weekly. Again a personal pefereance, but I think the audience does notice these things...

Just my experience,

David
geemack
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As others have said, if the patina (tarnish to many others) suits the presentation, it's all good. But maybe stay ahead of the audience in situations where your beautiful patina might just be dirt to them. When you bring the bowl or cups into the scene you can mention how they're very old, or explain that you just found them in the attic last weekend, or borrowed them from a museum, or your dishwasher is broken, or even just casually say "Wow, this thing sure could use a shine."

Greg
Michael Baker
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Head 'em off at the pass, guys. Get there before they do. Give them something to consider that precludes, and overrides their own formation of an opinion that may be contrary to what you want. It is YOUR show. stay in control. Embracing something for your own purpose, and preferably a higher purpose, is the best way to avoid having it used as a weapon against you.

FYI - My own opinion: Polished copper looks new and maintained. Housewives have been polishing Revere Ware pots for 200 years. Copper patina looks rich, worldly, and antiquated, as does dark Mahogany.

Unpolished brass or silver looks dirty, as if it has been neglected, or hidden away for many years. Study well the premise you are selling. You'll need a lot of conviction if you expect the audience to buy it.

I have a certain amount of experience with vintage magic apparatus, and there is a line between altering the original finish and thereby damaging the value, and necessary restoration, cleaning, etc., when it is needed to improve a beat up, neglected prop. In other words, sometimes it's better to leave it alone, and other times when you should give something some apparent TLC. You should have sound reasons for either, but you should communicate to the audience some justification if there is a chance they will not understand.
~michael baker
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Donnie Buckley
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LOL, all that psychology and lying just so you don't have to polish copper... and polished copper is beautiful.
If you are doing a period piece - then it makes sense to use old tarnished looking cups, but if you are not... well even your mom wouldn't use a tarnished copper pot in the kitchen AND she's not in show biz. But that's just my opinion - I have Magpie Syndrome for sure, just like the other idiots that Michael mentioned - even though I don't really like ketchup.
Learn the form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the way, then find your own way. Rings-N-Things
Pete Biro
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My wife has a fantastic collection of copper pots, pans, etc. etc. on our kitchen walls, and even though I like the "olde Patina" look... THEY ARE CONSTANTLY POLISHED AND SHINY. Smile
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Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2011-07-06 15:40, Donnie Buckley wrote:
LOL, all that psychology and lying just so you don't have to polish copper... and polished copper is beautiful.

Not sure if that's calling me a liar or not. LOL I'll take the high road and drop that one.

Quote:
If you are doing a period piece - then it makes sense to use old tarnished looking cups, but if you are not... well even your mom wouldn't use a tarnished copper pot in the kitchen AND she's not in show biz.


That's certainly one justification for using "old tarnished looking cups" (which some prefer to use the term "patina"). I'm sure someone who looked hard at their own show could come up with other reasons that are just as sound.

Quote:
But that's just my opinion - I have Magpie Syndrome for sure, just like the other idiots that Michael mentioned - even though I don't really like ketchup.


An opinion of which you are entitled to have. My reference to shiny things and idiots was a metaphor for conformity without thought, and the ease in shaping the public to accept crap, and not a reference to actual shiny cups, or those who like them. An affinity for shiny things is simply a preference. Magpie Syndrome is slang for taking that to an obsession, a definition that doesn't fit everyone that likes shiny things.

The ketchup reference was speaking of those who plod along blindly. I like ketchup. That just leaves catching up.

Whether or not someone polishes their cups is entirely their own prerogative. As with many things regarding magic and art, I hardly believe this to be a one size fits all situation. This discussion is nothing more than a variety of suggestions to prevent the problem encountered by the OP. As I see it, he can either polish the cups, or offer a valid reason why they aren't. Either is better than negative opinions formed by the audience.
~michael baker
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Dave V
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I go both ways. Copper? Nice chocolately brown. Brass? Highly polished. It all depends on venue which set I choose to use.
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
Donnie Buckley
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LOL, I'm not calling YOU a liar Michael. I'm just saying that I'm not going to tell my audience that my cups were originally brought over on the Mayflower and expect them to believe me. I tell some tall tales, and I never expect to be believed, but this one just seems like an excuse to ignore the maintenance and pass off the tarnished cups as "vintage".
Learn the form, but seek the formless. Learn it all, then forget it all. Learn the way, then find your own way. Rings-N-Things
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2011-07-06 17:10, Donnie Buckley wrote:
LOL, I'm not calling YOU a liar Michael. I'm just saying that I'm not going to tell my audience that my cups were originally brought over on the Mayflower and expect them to believe me. I tell some tall tales, and I never expect to be believed, but this one just seems like an excuse to ignore the maintenance and pass off the tarnished cups as "vintage".


Well, I'd expect that you'd be predisposed to preferring shiny, maintained cups. Isn't it your business to bring them into the world that way? Nothing wrong with that, and I'd assume your customers would expect that. But, what is right for you is hardly enough leverage to conclude that a contrary opinion is wrong. I may have read you wrong on this, but it seems your words are intending to back up that doctrine.

I will always give consideration for creative non-conformity. As long as someone can offer a reason why they do something (in regard to a magic performance), then I value that individuality. I certainly don't remember in the nearly 50 years that I have been doing magic, that we were supposed to follow the guidelines of some magic "neighborhood association" that dictates standards for magic shows.

For comparison, I developed a habit of not polishing my copper English Pennies, because in the dimly-lit clubs where I worked for many years, it was very difficult for a spectator to tell the difference between polished copper coins, and silver half dollars. I think this was a sound reason for not polishing the coins, and hardly "an excuse to ignore the maintenance". However, if I ever decided to sell those coins, and wanted to attract the eye of a magician buyer, I'd probably shine them up. Smile
~michael baker
The Magic Company
Bill Palmer
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There is an old saying -- de gustibus non disputandum -- There is no arguing with taste. You need to look at your props just as you would any part of any theatrical show, even if you are simply performing in a small room. Your clothing, your hands and your props should be clean. They don't necessarily need to be shiny. On stage, shiny props can be a big distraction. A satin finish on stage props prevents glare. However, your cups should not look really corroded or tattered.

If you prefer to work with a patinized set of copper cups, you should be able to have a reason for it. For example, if I decided to perform with my old Tannen's Stubby cups, which are almost a dark brown, I would introduce them as the very first set of cups that I ever owned. They are fifty years old, next Thursday. On the other hand, I would probably opt to perform with something that had a nickel or chrome plated finish. I wouldn't belabor the point on any of these, though.

When it comes to coins, I have a little different viewpoint. I generally allow my coins to lose their shine. This is especially important if you are working in a dimly lighted area, such as a restaurant. In dim light, polished silver and polished copper look very similar. If you are going to polish any of your coins, polish the silver ones.

But back to the cups. Johnny Ace Palmer performed with Ross Bertram cups when he was performing at Magic Island. Part of his daily ritual included polishing his cups.

Frankly, when I perform the chop cup routine, I use a leather cup. So polishing it is really not necessary.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
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